CENTURION (Dunya News) – Pakistan skipper Babar Azam smashed his first Twenty20 hundred to inspire his country’s nine wicket win over South Africa in the third T20 International of four match series on Wednesday.
Azam hit four sixes and 15 fours in his 59-ball innings of 122 at Centurion.
He put on an opening stand of 197 with Muhammad Rizwan, who scored 73 from 47 balls, as the tourists reached 203 for five in their 20 overs. Mohammad Rizwan scored an unbeaten 73 in a Pakistan record first wicket partnership of 197.
Pakistan took a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Playing first, South Africa set 204 runs target for Pakistan. Aiden Markram and Janneman Malan gave South Africa a brilliant start, brought up an opening partnership of 108 runs. Linde got a start but was dismissed soon after that and Nawaz came on and got the better of the other opener, Malan, too. Klaasen too got a start but was bowled by a beauty by Hasan Ali. Things were looking a bit wobbly towards the end but a strong finish by van der Dussen took them past 200.
South Africa made a stunning comeback with an all-round show in the 2nd T20, levelling the series 1-1. Proteas bowlers managed to contain Babar Azam-led Pakistan’s batting firepower while Aiden Markram and captain Heinrich Klaasen smashed the famed Pakistan bowling attack to win the match easily. Now, moving to Centurion, the slowness of the pitch will be the factor as both sides aim to take the lead in the 4-match series.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam has also dethroned Indian skipper Virat Kohli and climbed to the No.1 spot in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) rankings for ODI batsmen, thus ending his India counterpart Virat Kohli’s nearly three and a half year reign at the top of the rankings. Babar’s player of the match effort of an 82-ball 94 in Pakistan’s third ODI against South Africa, which helped them win the three-match series, took his rating points to 865, eclipsing Kohli’s 857 points and thus pushing the Indian captain to second place.
He is the fourth player from Pakistan to top the ODI batting rankings after Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003). Babar, 26, started the series against South Africa at 837 rating points but moved up to 858 (ahead of Kohli) after his score of 103 in the first match.
South Africa: Aiden Makram, Janneman Malan, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen, Pite van Biljon, George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Sisanda Magala, Beuran Hendricks, Lizaad Williams, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf.